Sky

Weekend Inspiration 40

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Wishing all of you a splendid weekend! Thank you for the visits, likes, follows and comments during our Islands Week. Keep on clicking my friends!


Weekend Inspiration 39

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Wishing everyone an enjoyable weekend!


Colorful canvas

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A sunset can be your point of interest. But then that’s just that – sun, sky, clouds, colors. Those elements may be more than enough to carry an image. Yet there are times a sunset can be an interesting backdrop, an exciting candy-colored canvas playing an important supporting role to a main subject. Why this approach? Since sunsets are often paired with sweeping horizons, putting a focal point in your foreground or middle ground indicates scale and vastness. You present an earthly dimension of size, the broadness of nature. Another thing is you ramp up your composition, arranging elements with the the use of perspectives (foreground against a background), placing main subjects in relation to minor ones (framing or rule of thirds), and presenting a general point of view (vantage points or elevated shots). You work out your shots with sunsets. You are given precious few minutes from observation to execution when the sun mellows down and dips into the horizon. And you can take on either or all approaches in a way that is interesting and captivating. You can never go wrong capturing a sunset scene. But everything can go wrong if you don’t know how to.

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Sunset silhouettes

We all know that sunsets are the best time to create silhouette shots. So how do we go about this? Keep an eye out for distinct shapes, forms and outlines, or you can use silhouettes to frame an image. If you can’t nail it in manual, use the “sunset” mode (one of your camera’s preset shooting modes) that way your camera does all the analyzing to get the right white balance, exposure and other optimal settings for sunset situations.

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Sunset Week

Another week and another picture series, this time on one of my all-time favorite subjects – sunsets.

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I wrote this piece titled Do The Math on April 27, 2013 and I’m reposting it.

Those few minutes before the sun finally dips into the horizon will give you some deep contrast. It’s where the darkness of ensuing night conquers the last remaining light of day. And depending on the weather, cloud formation and where the rays fall, it can give you an exquisite canvas of colors, light, silhouettes and shadows.

I have said before that I’m not a morning guy, hence I have just a few sunrise shots. But I have a whole collection of sunset scenes – reminders of the cyclical nature of life, of the eternal passing of time divided into a 24-hour day. I remember this quote from American photographer Galen Rowell:

“There are only a fixed number of sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed in a lifetime. The wise photographer will do the math and not waste any of them.”

I would like to think that the wise photographer is the thinking photographer that we should all strive to be. Whether we have reached that level or not yet, it would add to our experience, satisfaction and skill to capture one of the most spectacular displays of nature afforded us on a daily basis. When the opportunity to photograph a great sunset is there, yes, we should not pass it up. We should “do the math.”

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Wishing you all a splendid week ahead!


I like it

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My subject, the boy in his banca (local canoe), is out of focus. That is obvious enough. Well, I was in another banca rocking and swaying in that late afternoon when the waters were rising and the tides were becoming restless when I took this shot. I wasn’t in a stable and steady footing in the first place. When I reviewed this image in my computer I was tempted to delete it. However, I had second thoughts simply because taking the picture as a whole I thought was greater than the sum of its parts. The cloud formation, the colors of a sunset peeking through the horizon, the portion of an island, and the subtle green waters were enough to convince me to keep this. Maybe I exact a high standard for myself when it comes to image making, which is good as I see every photographic opportunity as a challenge. But heck, I don’t work for National Geographic hence my photos need not be perfect. In relation to that, my audience and perennial critic first and foremost is myself. A slightly blurred subject in a most captivating environment is, for me, passable. Why? Because I like it.


Photo Quotes 164

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I photograph things which I want to look at a little longer.~Gunnie Moberg


Photo Quotes 163

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However much a man might love beautiful scenery, his love for it would be greatly enhanced if he looked at it with the eye of an artist, and knew why it was beautiful. A new world is open to him who has learnt to distinguish and feel the effect of the beautiful and subtle harmonies that nature presents in all her varied aspects. Men usually see little of what is before their eyes unless they are trained to use them in a special manner.~Henry Peach Robinson


Trickier

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Article Excerpt:
Boat photography is a bit trickier than shooting on land, but becomes more natural with practice…Framing and tracking a subject through the lens while on a boat takes some practice, as even the slightest waves can make the job very difficult, especially at higher magnifications, so start on calm water with shorter lenses, allowing a bit extra room around your subject, and progress to rougher water and longer lenses, with more tightly framed compositions. In general, you will always want to photograph from smaller boats when there is little wind, as the wind will not only kick up spray and make the water choppy, but it will move your boat around, making it difficult to photograph.

On larger boats, give yourself some time to feel how the boat moves, and see where spray is coming from, before beginning to photograph. On some big boats, you can lose your balance pretty easily while others are very smooth, so you want to know that before you take out your gear. Once you get a feel for the boat, shoot away, keeping an eye out for spray and changing weather conditions.

Photographing from a boat can add a new dimension to your photography and open up the possibility of photographing new subjects or older subjects in a new way. So the next time you venture out on a boat, consider bringing your camera gear along and seeing what you can capture.
~Kari Post from her article Have Boat, Will Photograph


Do the math

Those few minutes before the sun finally dips into the horizon will give you some deep contrast. It’s where the darkness of ensuing night conquers the last remaining light of day. And depending on the weather, cloud formation and where the rays fall, it can give you an exquisite canvas of colors, light, silhouettes and shadows.

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I have said before that I’m not a morning guy, hence I have just a few sunrise shots. But I have a whole collection of sunset scenes – reminders of the cyclical nature of life, of the eternal passing of time divided into a 24-hour day. I remember this quote from American photographer Galen Rowell:

“There are only a fixed number of sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed in a lifetime. The wise photographer will do the math and not waste any of them.”

I would like to think that the wise photographer is the thinking photographer that we should all strive to be. Whether we have reached that level or not yet, it would add to our experience, satisfaction and skill to capture one of the most spectacular displays of nature afforded us on a daily basis. When the opportunity to photograph a great sunset is there, yes, we should not pass it up. We should “do the math.”


The essential ingredient in sunset shots

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Article Excerpt:
Ok, but there’s more to picking the right spot than just the location. As important as location is, your sunset will almost always be lacking the one essential ingredient that will make it special – a dominant point of interest. And just what might that be? It’s that extra element that gives your sunset an anchor, a sense of scale, a point which will draw the viewer inevitably into the picture.

A photograph of a sunset by itself just doesn’t work. After all, one setting sun is much like any other. Even if you manage to capture the gorgeous color, without a dominant point of interest the image will still end up looking rather boring. Now, having said that I should tell you that, without some forward planning, a dominant point of interest is not an easy thing to include. It might be the silhouette of a sailboat on a glittering, backlit ocean, a barn, a horse, a cow, a tractor, or even a lone tree in the foreground. It could be the silhouette of two lovers walking hand-in-hand down a country lane, a little girl with a small dog on a leash – I’ve used both of those – and I’m sure you can come up with many more ideas of your own.
~Blair Howard fron his article How To Photograph Sunsets


Create a pleasant mood

There’s something about a serene, romantic setting. It sets you in the mood. It puts you at ease. It is a feeling of rest and relaxation, of slowing down from a hectic, fast-paced life. Al you want to do in a scene such as the picture below, is to get a table, order the best meal for you and your date, and enjoy the quiet, relaxing seaside view.

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We have known that images can create mood and character. Now mood is triggered by how we feel about a particular image. If your intention is to shock and startle, then you take shocking pictures. Which is not my forte. I go for the pleasant, feel good and inspiring images. It is beautiful, appealing and interesting images that reach out and relate to majority of viewers. This is the mood that is produced with subtle combinations of subject, composition, setting and lighting. They should all work out to make the viewer comfortable, calm, homey and breezy. In a day, people have had enough of unpleasantness and burdens in their work and daily dealings with life. Don’t add to their heavy heart with pictures that create emotional overload. You do great service with images that lighten feelings and energize the soul. You can be powerful in your art, but always be considerate in how you present your image and its message.

 


Weekend Inspiration 22

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Wishing everyone a lovely and inspiring weekend! Keep on clicking my friends!


Master the manual

Last weekend I was at a bookstore and chanced upon the photography section. I saw Joe McNally’s book LIFE Guide to Digital Photography: Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros and it was open (without the plastic cover). I scanned through the pages. It was an eye-opener, filled with techniques and tips based on the experience and expertise of McNally who was a contributor for National Geographic for 20 years, and a staff photographer of LIFE magazine from 1994 to 1998. Of the many quotable quotes from the book was this: “The camera is an engineer, not a poet.”

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As I recall, McNally said it in the context of mastering your camera, especially its manual controls. He states that in Program Mode, you let the camera do all the calculations as far as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and other parameters concerned to get the proper exposure. In Aperture Priority Mode (on a DSLR’s Mode Dial its A for Nikon and AV for Canon), you choose how wide the opening and the camera’s brains sets the corresponding shutter speed. In Shutter Priority Mode (S on Nikon, TV on Canon), you set the exposure time and the camera determines the right aperture. The correct mix between aperture and shutter speed will more or less produce a properly exposed shot. Which is fine and good, but Program Mode is for amateurs and Shutter and Aperture Priority Modes give you partial control. The brains of the camera will not work all the time in all shooting situations. It will always be a measurement, a forecast, a computation – crunching numbers to get the median balance and mix. That in essence makes the camera an engineer.

But you must step up in your photographic journey and go beyond the comforts and convenience of Program Mode. You have to master the Manual Mode (even some point and shoots now have full manual) and all the photographic possibilities it offers right at your fingertips. Though it is so easy to use the dozens of preset scenes and shooting modes in today’s digital cameras, don’t be tempted. Gone are the days of being a slave to whatever the camera tells you. You must be the one who takes charge and tells the camera what to do. Following through your vision as a photographer for every image you take requires you to have full control. You must be driven by your passion and art. You must beat the heart of a poet, crafting and creating, confident in your technical knowledge and convinced in your creative prowess.


Weekend Inspiration 21

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Happy weekend my blogger peers!


An image must communicate

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Article Excerpt:
Let’s talk a little bit about pictures and why we love them.

Pictures can be beautiful. They can decorate a home or an office; be published in books, magazines and calendars; they can even win ribbons or prizes in contests. A breathtaking landscape can transport the viewer to another time and place, if only for a moment. A beautiful still life can capture a mood of serenity, warmth, even magic. A great portrait of a person can look into their soul, and let you share their smiles or tears. A great picture communicates. Think about it. There is a huge market out there for photographs because publishers know that the people who buy their materials will be drawn to good photographs that reach out to them. Visual communication is something that we’re all born being able to relate to. The subjects out there to take pictures of are limitless. The only boundaries are within your mind.

But what makes a photograph successful? The answer is a fairly simple one, and you can improve your photography today by learning a few very basic rules.

One caveat, however. As the old saying goes, rules are meant to be broken. Some of my favorite photographs very purposely break a lot of the basic “rules” of photography. But to break the rules in a way that enhances a photograph and effectively turns it into a great photo, you first have to know the rules and have a reason for wanting to break them…
~from the article Composition and Impact


Photo Quotes 131

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It’s just seeing – at least the photography I care about. You either see or you don’t see. The rest is academic…It’s how you organize what you see into a picture.~Elliott Erwitt


Tropical paradise

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I don’t know how you imagine an Eden on earth should look like, but if you ask me it should be something like the above.~JJ


Blue in bright light

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Article Excerpt:
Natural light in photography is not as consistent as you may think. At different times of the day, different shades of the color spectrum dominate natural light. For instance, at midday, the blue portion of the color spectrum is dominant, producing a “cool” light. Color photography taken at midday produces the clearest, sharpest pictures in bright light.

In contrast, natural light at sunrise and sunset emphasizes the red portion of the color spectrum. Known as warm light in photography, sunrise and sunset light produces warmer pictures with a softer contrast.
~From the article Light and Color in Photography


Shooting the summer scene

April and May are the summer months in the Philippines. It is hot and humid, and people flock to their favorite weekend getaway – the beach. With 7,100 islands and a combined coastline that stretches 23,000 kilometers, the beach is a perennial sight. And we’ve got some of the best beaches in the world. You’ve probably heard, seen or been to some of these – Boracay, Panglao, El Nido, Bohol, Cebu, Subic Bay and Siargao. Now these are just the more popular ones. Numerous other beaches, some still undeveloped in their natural pristine beauty, litter the country’s coast. The beach scene is one of my favorite subjects. I’ve shared some tips on shooting the beach in a previous post. This time let’s explore with more tips on capturing the bright summer scene.

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When we talk about outdoor summer scenes, we mean bright intense light, which results in harsh shadows, glare, lens flare and high contrast, especially during midday hours. Here are what I’ve searched and gathered:

1. Use Lens Filters. In the same way that we wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays, dust and dirt, filters do they same for the lens. There are many kinds of filters and with different purposes – protection from the elements, reduction in the amount of light and reflection, and enhancement of colors. For a better understanding about filters, what they do and how they function I refer you to this article Lens Filter Explained.

2.  Underexpose. If you don’t have neutral density filters and the outside scene is quite bright, you may have to underexpose the image by 2 stops in order to properly get the highlights and shadows. This is called exposure compensation, a standard manual feature in DSLRs represented by the plus and minus signs (+/-). Some high-end point and shoots also carry this feature, providing for more flexible manual exposure controls. These Exposure Tips will guide you on where, how and when to use exposure compensation.

3. Use A Lens Hood. This lens attachment is meant to reduce flare which is caused when light bounces into the lens from the side. Know why it is important to use this with this article What Does A Lens Hood Do?

4. The Sunny 16 Rule. It states that: “On a sunny day, you should set your aperture  to f16 and your shutter speed to the reciprocal of your ISO value…This means that, for an ISO value of 100, your shutter speed should be near 1/100 seconds (most of the time cameras will offer a value of 1/125 seconds). An ISO value of 200 calls for a shutter speed around 1/200 seconds.” Head over to the article to see the suggested f-stop settings for various lighting conditions.

5. Use Fill Flash. Your subject may be in a deep shade or shadow caused by the harsh light, or the sun is in the back of the subject making it a “backlighted” image. In any case, the camera will not recognize or retain the subject’s image, it will just be a dark mass or silhouette. Time to engage the flash to fill in the dark areas. Ken Rockwell explains it all in his article Fill Flash.

6. Adjust In Post-Processing. Most image editing programs have controls to adjust brightness and contrast. The one I use, the free but feature-filled software PhotoScape, even has special options for adjusting luminance, brightening foregrounds and backgrounds, and lighting particular shadow areas in a photo.

This is not a complete listing. There are many other tips like moving into a shade, using natural reflectors in the environment, tweaking camera settings like ISO and white balance and many others. The point is to be knowledgeable and prepared when we go outdoors in bright, summer, sunny days. The picture above was taken at Tambuli Beach Resort in Mactan Island (accessible by two modern bridges from across Cebu City) while the image below was taken at Subic Bay.

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Photo Quotes 130

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To shoot poignant pictures we only need follow the path of our enthusiasm. I believe that this feeling is the universe’s way of telling us that we are doing the right thing. The viewing public will always disagree over the intrinsic merits of a particular photograph, but no one can deny the enthusiasm that originally inspired us to capture and offer that image to others.~Timothy Allen


Happy Easter!

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We thank you Lord for this gift of talent and artistry which we are able to share to the world. Happy Easter everyone!


A Lenten Prayer

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O Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.
~St. Francis of Assisi


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You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.~Galen Rowell